Local by Flywheel or Desktop Server? Can You Upgrade Between the Two
If you’re doing any sort of WordPress development, then a local server setup is a must. I’ve been using DesktopServer from ServerPress for many years. A few mouse clicks and you’ve got a new local wordpress site setup.
DesktopServer costs $99.95 (although the free version allows you up to 3 local sites). I’ve always paid for the premium version. The only downside is when major new versions arrived, I need to pay for a new licence. On the whole I’ve found it a good product.
Only a few months ago I heard about a new local server – Pressmatic – for a similar price. It looked a lot cleaner (in terms of UI), and had a few more options than DesktopServer. I even began emailing support to ask how easy it was to migrate from DesktopServer.
I got too busy, then suddenly, Flywheel (offer WordPress hosting) announce they’ve bought Pressmatic, rebranded it, and are GIVING it way (for free). Amazing move.
Local by Flywheel
The standouts for me:
- Mac only (as at publishing).
- Allows different versions of PHP (so you can run PHP7)
- Easy setup of local HTTPS.
- Very clean UI and setup process.
I couldn’t resist something free, so I went ahead and downloaded Local by Flywheel.
Completely painless to setup. But one thing stands out: Local uses Virtualbox to run each site in it’s ownv virtual environment – which is great. However, the Vbox can chew up a bit of RAM. Even if you quit the Local by Flywheel app, it still leaves the VBoxHeadless program running.
It’s super easy to setup a new WordPress site.
Migrating from DesktopServer to Local
I initially thought I might be able to have all my local sites as is, and have them imported into Local. I was wrong.
If you are converting from DesktopServer you will need to migrate each and every site. And it’s not straightforward.
WPMusketeer has a great tutorial, but it’s a messy process. You will need to manually copy all the files (Local stores websites by default in a different place).
In Local by Flywheel if your mac user is “Username”, and your site is “sitename” – this is where you will find WordPress.
Then you need to export the SQL database, and manually import. Local uses the Adminer tool for database management, rather the PHPMyAdmin (more powerful – comes with DesktopServer).
I started this for one site. Then gave up. I have 10 local sites, and the time and drama are just too much.
You can run both Local and DesktopServer concurrently, but that seems a foolish waste of precious resources on my MacBook.
Which is Best?
If I was starting from scratch, I would choose Local by Flywheel. It’s free and it works, and arguably has a better feature set.
If you are on Windows – you will need to go DesktopServer. Maybe the next version of Desktopserver will have more features, but it will cost.
I will continue to use DesktopServer as the time to migrate off of it is too much of a hassle for me right now.
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